SPRINGFIELD — Democrats who control the Illinois legislature are poised to shine a spotlight on Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to veto the state budget.
On Tuesday, the House has scheduled what could be an hours-long parade of witnesses to discuss the effects of the Republican governor's actions.
In the Senate, lawmakers will hold a hearing on worker' compensation reform, one of the business-friendly changes being pushed by the governor.
The hearings are designed to generate backlash against Rauner, who is withholding support for a tax hike to balance the budget in exchange for the adoption of some of his initiatives.
“The House acted in May to avoid any disruption of a wide range of core programs and services important to middle-class and struggling families. Those are the people who will be harmed by a shutdown,” House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement last week. "Each day that passes without action by the governor creates unnecessary disruption and anxiety in every region of the state."
Wednesday marks the first day of the state's new fiscal year. Although no budget will be in place, the state is expected to continue operating for at least two weeks before the first round of paychecks is missed.
If Rauner has not found common ground with Democrats by that time, some state programs could begin being pared back.
Rauner has taken steps to prepare for the lack of a budget, including freezing $820 million in spending beginning July 1, and asking state agencies to detail the effects of a strike on their operations.
In the past, lawmakers and governors have agreed on temporary budgets to keep state government operating while the two sides hash out their disagreements.
But, along with not publicly detailing his approach to managing a budget-less state, Rauner has not telegraphed his plans to rank-and-file Republicans.
Republican state Rep. Adam Brown of Champaign said he wants to enact a temporary budget to ensure that needed services continue to be funded during the impasse.
“At this point I think we should definitely start looking at that possibility because Speaker Madigan doesn’t seem prepared to talk about structural changes," Brown said.
State Rep. Keith Sommer, R-Morton, was among those who said he had few insights to share with his constituents about the effects of starting the fiscal year without a budget in place.
“I wish I had the real answer for them," Sommer said. "I wish I knew more than all these other people do, but I don’t. But it’s really frustrating for the people we serve.”
Madigan said a revamped budget should use a balanced approach that includes some spending reductions, but avoids cutting off "critical services for middle-class families."
Some hope Rauner doesn't buckle too soon.
In exchange for supporting the kind of tax increase needed to close the budget gap, Rauner has said he wants a two-year freeze on property taxes, a business-friendly overhaul of workers' compensation rules, term limits and redistricting reform.
He also has pushed for rules that would water down rules governing labor agreements for local governments.
Freshman state Rep. Reggie Phillips, R-Charleston, said a prolonged shutdown could force changes in state spending and in the state's unionized workforce.
"I’m asking the governor to hold his ground. We need to have some concessions here in the state of Illinois," said Phillips, a business owner.
Phillips believes the stalemate will continue into August.
"I say it’s going to go full-term," he said.